Is this the beginning of the end, for the Catalan referendum? The Spanish Guardia Civil is questioning Catalan government officials, will this lead to the arrest of Carles Puigdemont?
The Spanish Guardia Civil is questioning Catalan government officials about the 1st October Independence referendum preparations. Apparently, some of the questions relate to the institutional campaign launched by the government inviting expats (citizens living abroad) to register on a external electoral roll, which is totally voluntary.
One of the companies that are tendering for the supply of ballot boxes for the referendum also received a visit by Spanish Guardia Civil.
The Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, accused the People’s Party and the liberal C’s party of “frightening civil servants and public workers” to stop them taking part in the organization of the referendum. Both sides are openly opposed to an independence vote in Catalonia, which they consider illegal.
Puigdemont insists that the process is “absolutely legal” and warned that nothing will change Catalans’ determination to have a say about their future in October.
Puigdemont complained in a speech in Parliament that the prosecution is “following orders from political parties” that are against the independence referendum. “They don’t want civil servants to even think about taking part in processes that are entirely legal.”
Carles Puigdemont Catalan president “They don’t want civil servants to even think about taking part in processes that are absolutely legal.”
Sources from the High Court in Barcelona told the ACN that they have not ordered any interrogations. Court number 13 is currently investigating whether the government obtained citizen’s financial details illegally something that the executive total denies.
The same sources also commented that if the Guardia Civil is making interrogations within the framework of this case, popularly known as the ‘Vidal case’ after the name of the former senator that prompted the investigation, it is acting independently, as judicial police. The case is, in fact, secret.
The interrogation revelations come the day after the government nullified the public tender to supply the ballot boxes for the referendum. The Catalan president also said that the Spanish government is showing a “great interest” in “asking questions of companies that manufacture ballot boxes.” Officers of the Guardia Civil visited the headquarters of one of the two businesses that were tendering to supply the boxes.
The Catalan president did not explain in Parliament what the government’s plan B is to supply ballot boxes after the tender was nullified. He said, however, that the executive will not give up and will explore “all possible means within the administrative process” to buy the ballot boxes. The Spanish general prosecutor had presented a complaint in Court against the process.
The Spanish National Police is also investigating the government campaign to promote the registration of Catalans living abroad on an electoral register. The General State Prosecutor opened an investigation into this case last March, after suspecting this campaign of being part of the referendum preparations.
Spain’s vice president Soraya Sáenz Santamaria said if independence supporters want trouble they should not involve civil servants, private companies or other citizens. She also pointed out that the fact the Catalan government had to cancel the public tender to supply ballot boxes shows that some people and many owners take the legal framework seriously and want their companies to be prosperous. Saénz Santamaría also invited the Catalan government to recognize that “this road goes nowhere and is building up tension within Catalan society.”
With regards to investigations of the Spanish National Police into the external electoral roll and the website of the National Pact for the Referendum. The vice president argued that the independence supporters “could not ignore the law” and reminded citizens and the Catalan executive of the Constitutional Court’s verdict on the matter, prohibiting any preparation of the referendum.
Sáenz de Santamaría also highlighted the visit to the Vatican secretary of state, who agreed with the Spanish government that the decision on the future of Spain should be taken by all Spanish citizens. The vice president of the Spanish executive said that minorities have to defend their interests by convincing the majority.